Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Joshua Bell And Patricia Kopatchinskaja Bringing 20th and 21st Century Violin Music Into The Mainstream

... "[Joshua] Bell owns that big, classic virtuoso sound, but [pianist Jeremy] Denk complemented the violinist's operatic fluency with his own fiery display....

Another highlight of the afternoon was Prokofiev's "Five Melodies," the title simply and accurately reflecting these pearls of bittersweet lyricism. The pieces are a product of the composer's cosmopolitan 1920s, with a delicacy that makes them sound more French than Russian. They also suit Bell to the bone, with his pure-toned cantabile giving voice to the "Melodies" like the songs they were originally....

For all the duo's high-caliber musicianship, the day wasn't without its disappointments. In recent interviews, Bell promised that he would be playing a new Edgar Meyer sonata (with Meyer a mentor in Bell's brave excursions into neo-bluegrass). Apparently, the piece wasn't finished in time for the violinist's tour.

It's too bad that Bell didn't offer another 21st-century work; although hardly a fearless exponent for new music, he justly won a Grammy for his recording of Nicholas Maw's 1990s Violin Concerto and helped make John Corigliano's Academy Award-winning "Red Violin" soundtrack an international hit. Surely, there are more contemporary compositional voices that would fit him. (Say, John Harbison or Mark-Anthony Turnage?)....

... If his repertoire is mostly old-school, the violinist's informality and engagement with his audience reflect a current sensibility. He eschewed the usual monkey suit for a loose-fitting black shirt."...

Bradley Bambarger "Not Pop, But Clearly Quite Popular" The Star-Ledger of New Jersey February 20, 2006.


For a burning commitment by a young violinist to 20th and 21st century violin music, see Bob Shingleton's article today in "On An Overgrown Path" on the young Moldovan violinist, Patricia Kopatchinskaja. (There are also three large MP3s there for listening):

And on Ms Kopatchinskaja's own Web-site, there are several additional audio samples by contemporary composers including John Cage, Takuya Imahori, Gija Kantsceli, Thomas Larcher, Kumiko Omura, Alan Ridout, and Otto Zykan. Additionally, she has recorded on CD contemporary violin works by Johanna Doderer, Nikolai Korndorf, Dmitri Smirnov, and Boris Yoffe.

Young Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja has a burning commitment to the violin music of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Photo credit: Patricia Kopatchinskaja via


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